Civil Division Overview
The Civil Division provides comprehensive legal services to King County government, including all County elected and appointed officials, department heads, and with the managers of numerous county agencies and departments. Serving in its role as an in-house law firm for the County, the Civil Division works closely with its clients in solving a wide range of legal problems by providing legal advice and representing King County and its employees in lawsuits filed in state or federal courts. The Civil Division is comprised of about 65 lawyers organized into seven sections.
The Contracts Section provides legal advice to County departments on issues relating to the procurement and administration of contracts for goods, services, information technology products and systems, and the design and construction of public works. Attorneys in this Section review and edit contract documents, advise clients on challenges made by potential contractors to contract award decisions, and represent the County in disputes over the interpretation and enforcement of contract terms and conditions. The Section also provides general legal advice on a variety of topics to the Superior and District Courts, the King County Elections Division, the Superior Court Clerk’s Office, the King County Council Auditor’s Office, and the King County Board of Appeals.
Section Head: Tom Kuffel, 206-477-9537
The County Services Section represents many departments of County government that provide core governmental services, such as the Assessor, the Jail, the Sheriff, the Health Department, the Budget Office, the Finance Division, the Department of Community and Human Services, and Animal Control. County Services’ attorneys provide legal advice on all operational issues faced by these clients including regulatory compliance, public records, and contracts. These same attorneys provide legal representation in court when the actions of these County agencies are challenged. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) public records team, which handles all public records requests to the PAO, is also part of the County Services Section.
Section Head: John Gerberding, 206-477-1158
The Transportation and Real Property Section of the Civil Division represents the Department of Transportation, which manages Metro Transit, County roads, the King County International Airport, and the Vashon and West Seattle passenger ferries. The Section also represents a variety of County agencies on real estate related matters. These include the acquisition, development, leasing and sale of real estate, and the acquisition of conservation easements, open space lands and trails. In addition, the Section handles litigation arising from work done by the Department of Transportation and from County real estate holdings.
The Employment Section provides legal advice to all County departments regarding employment and labor relations matters including, but not limited to, employee hiring, discipline, termination, disability accommodation, and labor issues. The Employment Section also advises the County’s self-insured workers compensation program and litigates County workers compensation claims. The attorneys in the Employment Section may also represent King County at labor arbitrations and in other administrative forums. King County has over 13,000 employees, the majority of whom are represented by labor unions. The legal issues in the employment arena are complex and constantly evolving, thus it is extremely beneficial to have experienced attorneys who provide current legal advice to County agencies in these matters.
Section Head: Susan Slonecker, 206-477-9488
The Land Use Section provides legal representation to King County regarding land use and other environmental issues. The section advises on policy and code development, project review and regulatory enforcement. Contemporary policy issues include climate change, urban development, transportation, and environmental protection. Attorneys in the section represent the County in litigation in all levels of state and federal court and before various administrative agencies. Regular section clients include the King County Executive, Council, Department of Permitting and Environmental Review, and various other agencies.
Section Head: Darren Carnell, 206-477-1099
The Natural Resources Section represents the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. The Department employs more than 1,500 persons in four divisions: Wastewater Treatment, Solid Waste, Parks and Recreation, and Water and Land Resources. The Department’s mission is to foster environmental stewardship and strengthen communities by providing regional parks, protecting the region's water, air, land and natural habitats, and reducing, safely disposing of and creating resources from wastewater and solid waste. The section provides support to the Department on a variety of issues, including facility siting, property acquisition, federal and state environmental regulations, permit appeals, intergovernmental agreements, and hazardous waste cleanup. Additionally, the section provides support related to the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund site.
Section Head: Verna Bromley, 206-477-1097
The Litigation Section defends King County and its employees in lawsuits filed in state and federal courts. Litigation Section lawyers defend personal injury, civil rights, employment, and other types of lawsuits brought against the County and against County employees in their official capacity. Litigation attorneys defend employees including Metro bus drivers, sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers, and public health nurses and doctors. Attorneys handle their cases from start to finish, including the discovery process, motions practice, and trial. Additionally, litigation attorneys handle their own appeals, including briefing and oral argument, in state and federal appellate courts.
No public legal advice:
By statute, deputy prosecutors are limited to providing legal services to King County government. The Civil Division does not – and cannot - provide legal advice to the public. If you need a lawyer to help you with a private legal matter, please contact the counsel of your choosing or the King County Bar Association.
Photos courtesy of Creative Commons
"Waste Barrels in the Duwamish River area," by Robert Ashworth
"Interview," by Alan Cleaver
"Rapid Ride," by Brett Cleaver
"Inspection," by Savannah River Site